Gavin, our 7-year old son, started horse-riding therapy when he was only 2 ½-years old. We started with Hippotherapy (physical, occupational, and speech and language therapy that uses equine movement as a treatment tool). Now, we’re lucky enough to do both Hippotherapy and Therapeutic Riding. Gavin has a rare brain abnormality called Joubert Syndrome that impacts his balance, coordination and strength. Up to age 5, Gavin couldn’t walk independently. He could only experience the natural hip movements of walking by riding a horse. Through much hard work and dedication, Gavin walks independently now. We know that horse-riding therapy helped him gain success in many areas and has greatly improved his balance and core strength!
From the day Gavin started riding at Healing Reins, I knew we were going to have a great relationship with them. Gavin took one look at Axel’s cool “Mohawk” and was ecstatic to ride him. Gavin tends to have some impulsive behaviors due to his brain abnormality, but once he gets on Axel, it’s as if nothing else matters. He is more focused, attentive, and motivated while riding Axel. He loves going outside to the Healing Reins obstacle course and riding every piece of it. And don’t even get us started on how much he loves trotting!
Riding Axel calms Gavin, and Gavin feels “normal” when he’s riding. I could list so many gains we’ve made through Therapeutic Riding, but the one that matters most is that Axel and Healing Reins make my son happy.
Last, I’ll leave you with a quote from Gavin: “I love Axel. He’s my favorite. I wish I had Mohawk hair like his.”
Thanks for supporting Healing Reins and helping them to “keep on riding.”
The Adams Family
In my eight years of volunteering at Healing Reins, I’ve had the joy of watching our riders respond again and again to the connection with their horse, their volunteers, and their instructors. One such special connection was between Axel—a strong, steady, and amazing Fjord horse—and a rider who was a veteran.
The veteran was using a wheelchair when she started working with Axel. She had some mobility out of the wheelchair, but she struggled to feel steady. We started with her grooming Axel from the wheelchair. I was holding Axel’s lead rope during the grooming and an instructor was talking with the veteran. She was talking about challenges she was facing as a veteran, and frustrations she was feeling, and she began to cry. Axel, who is usually quite stoic, reached his head around and laid his chin on her shoulder. That demonstration of compassion from Axel deeply touched the veteran and formed a bond between the two of them. From then on, they were a team. The veteran felt steady with Axel, knowing he would take care of her. She continued her lessons at Healing Reins and was able to ride Axel indoors and outdoors. Axel gave her the confidence to try new things, and every week she looked forward to her time with him.
Linda P., Volunteer
Thank you for “betting” on Axel with your Triple Crown scholarship donation in support of riders, including our veterans, at Healing Reins!